More than a year after launching a search that made national headlines, The Washington Post has set its sights on a new headquarters by Franklin Square.
The Post, owned by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, is in negotiations to lease roughly 300,000 square feet from Hines Interests LP at One Franklin Square under a complex deal that could potentially involve displacing prominent D.C. law firm Reed Smith LLP, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. There are still many moving parts to the negotiations, those sources said, and Washington’s newspaper of record has kept several other options on the table in the event it cannot complete a deal to move to 1301 K St. NW.
Representatives from Hines and the Post declined to comment and representatives from Reed Smith could not be reached for comment.
The deal at Franklin Square would be much more traditional in both product type and location than many observers expected The Post would choose, given the edgier tech bent of its new owner. Bezos, who completed his acquisition of the Post for $250 million in October, had short-listed several locations outside of the downtown core, including a new building Skanska USA Commercial Development Inc. wants to build in NoMa.
But The Post is under a short time frame to find a new home, meaning new construction is becoming less and less likely. The Post’s former owner, Graham Holdings Co., completed the sale of the Post’s headquarters to Carr Properties for $157.8 million on March 29, according to D.C. land records. The deal allows the Post to lease back its space at 1150 15th St. NW and two adjacent buildings for two years after the sale, with two other options to extend for six months each.
The relocation would be a major coup for Hines at One Franklin Square, a nearly 600,000-square-foot building that will be 45 percent vacant by the end of 2014 and is facing the loss of anchor tenant PricewaterhouseCoopers. Hines has been aggressively seeking to lease space in the 12-story building. Meanwhile, it is facing a steep increase in the building’s assessed value starting in 2015 under a new assessment method adopted by the District.
The Post kicked off a search for a potential new home in February 2013, prior to the company’s sale to Bezos, and considered numerous options for both new construction and existing space in the District.